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April - May 2009


Political News

China’ s Claim on Indian Territory and its historical Truth- Part I

by Dr S. K. Das


Tibet is a very ancient country and her interesting history is her own, but she can only qualify it when she recognises that her own roots are intertwined with those of Buddhism in the 2nd century BCE (Before Christian Era).

The political geography of the Himalayas is contested in many places by China, which asserts its claim over territories belonging to India, Nepal, Bhutan etc. The geographical facts and the western world accepts China as the authority on a whim, deliberately ignoring India’s past civilisations and her relationship with Ladakh, and Western Tibet including Zhanskar (a region under the control of Himachal Pradesh) and Mount Kailas, Lake Manosarovar which are seated in the origins of Hinduism and Indian culture.

The relationship of Tibet with India can be traced from references in the Rig Veda and Atharva Veda, which were written around 4000 BCE and fell within a similar time period to the Mahabharata. The Mahabharata is reputed to have been written in the region of Ladhak and Western Tibet. However, regardless of such evidence, ever since the British Lord Macaulay addressed Parliament in 1835, and reported that Indian history before the British should be systematically ignored in favour of British colonial doctrine. Accordingly, Lord Mortimer Wheeler stated in his book that Indian civilisation started in 2500 BC with the discovery of the ruins of the Mahenjodaro and Harrappan civilisation.

He denied the existence of any culture or civilisation before that. However Indian history, as noted in the Rig Veda amongst other ancient texts, states that Indian civilisation extended far further back than 2500 BC, including such sites as the temple of Urvashi, who was an 羨apsara�or court dancer, that married one of the forefathers of King Santanu (as described in the Mahabharata).

Also described in the Mahabharata is the princess Madri, from the Kamrupa region in Assam. It is claimed that she married the King Pandu in 4000BC, when the formal Chinese civilisation is understood to be in development. In fact, as a reference, the rule of Temujin (Genghis Kahn) who was part of the Han dynasty, is known to have lived around 4000BC and his was the most prolific part of Chinese territories at the time. Hence around 4000BC, the Han dynasty was nothing more than a nomadic culture that periodically attacked Western Tibet around the Ladakh and Mount Kailas areas but never laid formal claim to the land. This was at a time when the Indian civilisation is recorded in texts as being fully established and in control of its borders.

The history of China is an interesting study in the rise and fall of dynasties, as well as revolutions and counter-revolutions. In view of the Chinese mainland, they never had a concept of a compact, formal army and so could never keep control of such a wide range of territory for long. Although China claims in recent years, that she always had a hold on Tibet, but this is an exaggeration of the truth. In fact China never laid claim to the region of Tibet until the end of the Han dynasty around 87 BC. The rulers of China wanted to formally take Tibet from 0 AD to 18th century AD but systematically failed to do so. This is because Tibet was ruled by a strong line of kings, who maintained a strong army and kept the Han and Ming dynasty at bay until around the 7th Century AD.

During the 13th century AD, the Mongol ruler of the time, invaded Tibet along with the remnants of the Chinese Han dynasty and brought the whole of Tibet under their control. It was in this period that the system of rule under the Llamas was introduced and this subsequently became a hereditary system. The Mongol rule in Tibet lasted until the 14th century AD, when they were defeated by the Chinese Ming dynasty, which had just re-established itself. The Mongols continued to maintain some parts of Tibet, but not all of it. It was not until 1642 that the whole of Tibet was under the control of the Llamas and in 1644, the Manchu emperor of China brought an end to the Ming dynasty.

Even so, the Llamas were not able to bring political unity to Tibet and eventually the Chinese government captured control of Lhasa around 1908. This was never accepted by the Tibetans, who revolted against Chinese rule in 1911 and defeated them. The Llamas forced China to sign non-aggression treaty where China agreed never to interfere in the internal affairs of Tibet. Nevertheless in 1914, China tried once more to capture Tibet by force, but failed.

At this time, the British colonial powers in India also decided that they wished to influence Tibet and its territories, with the assistance of the King of Nepal. They used this rule by proxy to gain taxes from the region which were paid to the British government in India. In 1914, the military might of the British Empire was so great, that the Simla conference was convened between Britain, China and Tibet. In this meeting, the British representatives made it clear that they would not recognise Tibet as a province of China. Of course, this was not accepted by Chinese representatives who left the conference and never signed the deliberation.

Also, between 1914 and 1928, China was so disturbed with her internal affairs that the British Raj was able to increase its influence in Tibet. It was not until 1928 that Chiang Kai Shek united China politically and started to pay more attention to regaining control of Tibet, but despite this, they were unable to release the British hold on Tibet, until WWII, after which Britain had become too weak to maintain its colonies in India and Asia. At the time of Indian independence in 1947, Britain pulled out of India, and failed to maintain any provision for the proper control of the border areas. Coupled with the ignorance of the Indian leaders about their own border situation, China used this opportunity to annex the whole of Tibet without challenge, in 1948.

Legally, the British Raj maintained the trading posts within Tibet, including Gartok, Gyantse and Yatung and these were not overrun by China. Thus, post-independence India could have asserted claim over these posts but instead, Nehru willingly relinquished control of these posts over to China, considering that they were neighbours.

Further, during Chinese civil war in 1948, the Communists apparently promised that they would consider Xinziang and Tibet as a Federation of the Republic, as long as India signed the Panchsheel agreement with China; but this demand was made without any offer or agreement on India痴 border issues. Amongst China’s痴demands, they insisted that many areas of India and Tibet are handed over as part of their territory. These included Aksai Chin in the North East of India, Western Tibet and Mount Kailash, as well as some areas of Nepal, Sikkim, Twang valley, Bhutan and those areas which were never discussed between the British Government, China and Independent India.

The Chinese Communists also do not want to understand that many people in Tibet and surrounding areas near the Indian border are of Tibeto-Dravidian origin, who came from India and practice Hinayana Buddhism, or that these people spoke the Pali language and lived in the Yunan Valley which used to be ruled by the Tang Emperor in Eastern China (2nd Century BC). Similarly, Tibeto �Mongoloid people were more advanced than the local people in Tang ruled areas, suggesting their origins were not the same. The Mongoloid people of the Tang area probably emigrated from Western Tibet and established their lives in Sikkim and Bhutan.

Therefore China’s claim on the Twang Valley, Bhutan and recently on Arunachul Pradesh is totally unjustified. A Byline from the Asian Age (30.01.03) sums up the issue succinctly stating that the Chinese case for the whole- sale absorption of Arunachal rests partly on some vague ethnic compatibility. Tawang paid a tribute to the Chinese emperors; ipso facto it is part of China. By this logic, Afghanistan should be included in the map of India, since the province paid tribute to the Mughal emperors for hundreds of years, at about the same time that Tawang was purchasing peace with the Ming Dynasty. The People Republic of China loses its republican sheen when it comes to territory, and turns imperial even if it cannot always get imperious.

China’s Claim on Indian Territory and its Historical Truth- Part II

The Indian State of Assam is an indivisible part of India. It is mentioned in the Mahabharata, around 4000 B.C.E when King Pandu, the great grandson of King Bharat married Madri, the Princess of Kama Rupa (Assam) and established the dynastic relationship with Assam.

Arunachal Pradesh is situated along the North East frontier of the Indian Union formerly known NEFA (North East Frontier Agency). Arunachal is the smallest of the seven political Units of North East India via Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Tripura, Nagaland and the two Union Territories of Mizoram and Arunachul.

The State of Assam is also mentioned in the Rig- Veda, while there was no mention of China or its Ming dynasty, therefore the claims of the Communist Party in China that Arunachal Pradesh is a part of the Tibet Autonomous region (which was forcibly claimed by China since the Communists came to power in 1948) are patently untrue.

Historically, the land of Assam is also known as Kamrupa and was ruled by the Kushan and Maurya Empire from ‘0’A.D to around 120 A.D. and the Kamrupa remained as part of the Hindu Empire under the Over lordship of King Samudragupta up to 4th Century A.D and Buddhism never succeeded in establishing a foothold on Arunachal Pradesh.

In 7th Century A.D. Hiuen Tsang, the Chinese Buddhist pilgrim visited the area at the time of the Tang Empire in North East Tibet. At that time, nomadic people used to attack the rich pasturelands of Assam intermittently, forcing the Arunachal people to pay taxes to the Tang Empire. Apart from that, China also claims that during this time period, the powerful Tibetan King Songsten Gampo married a Chinese Princess; hence Arunachal and surrounding areas in the Twang Valley come under the borders of modern day China, but Chinese historians forget to mention that King Gampo also married another Princess whose father was a Nepali Hindu King, and whose progeny and blood also connects the area to the Hindu Kingdom of Rajputana. It is therefore a matter of speculation how the Chinese have managed to convince themselves through such flimsy rationalisations, and asking the rest of the World to support the assertion that Arunachal Pradesh and the Twang Valley are in fact part and parcel of the North Eastern part of Tibet and therefore a territory of China.

According to new reports from China, she also claims Bhutan, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and above all Western Tibet as their land, but this is not real in historical terms. China should not raise such false claims of even an inch of these lands and if we do nothing then it would only encourage them to lay claim to Kashmir, Aksai Chin and Ladhakh. I would like to present some historical evidence that would refute China’s claim to the region

The Sikkim

Sikkim is a small kingdom state situated on the east side of the southern slope of the Himalayas and it has been an Indian enclave since Young Husband’s visit to Tibet in 1700A.D. when the kingdom was first identified by outsiders. The land of Sikkim is bordered by Tibet in the North, Bhutan in the east, the Indian state of West Bengal in the south. It is therefore unclear as to how China can claim land, which is clearly within the borders of India. In the 20th century, the official language of Sikkim is English, with other languages being Lepcha, Bhutia, Limboo and Nepali, and certainly not Chinese.

In 1890 the British made the Kingdom of Sikkim a protectorate, which passed to India on its independence in 1947. The early history of Sikkim is that in the early 10th to 12th centuries the Namgyal Dynasty had been ruling Sikkim. In the early 14th century Phuntsong Namgyal was consecrated as the first king and was given the title of Chogyal (Cho meaning ‘religious’ and Gyal meaning ‘King’). The Chogyals ruled Sikkim until the last king was deposed in 1975 and he subsequently migrated to North America, where he died in 1982.

If China wants to trace the history of Sikkim and also the Himalayan territories then may I remind them of some history: In the 1st century A.D. the land was ruled by Emperor Asoka, Mayurian and the Kushan Emperor, long before China was even defined as a nation.

China and the Indian Border

The Huns invaded India around 650 A.D. after the reign of the Kushan and Mayura Kings, and occupied northern India. However, the Hun dynasty was disrupted by western Turks who defeated the Chinese in the period 661 to 665 A.D. In 670 A.D. the Tibetan king occupied Kashgaria in India but could not retain it due to advancing troops led by Hiuen Tsung, who went on to establish Chinese rule in Western Tibet. Unfortunately he was unable to retain hold of the area due to the advancing Arab armies around the 8th century, and the Arabs ended any Chinese claims over the mountains of Kashmir and the surrounding areas. Since then no state of India or her borders have had any political relations with China.

From 660 to 700 A.D. the Hindu Lichchavis, who became the first Nepali royal family, ruled over the regions of Nepal, Bhutan and Sikkim. Between the 8th to 11th centuries the Lichchavis ruled the Nepal valley and during this time, many Indian settlers emigrated to Nepal and the Sikkim area. By the end of the Malla dynasty in 1775, Prithvi Narayan Shah of Nepal occupied the whole area from Sikkim to Karnali valley in Himachal Pradesh and kept it firmly under Gorkha rule. Between 1788 and 1793 the Gorkha King Rana Bahadur Shah had a confrontation with the ruling British Empire in India and as a result Nepal lost her sovereignty over Bhutan and Sikkim. The British took over these tiny kingdoms as their protectorates.

China has also demanded that India agree to give away Aksai- Chin, a part of the the Ladhak Valley, as it is claimed as part of Western Tibet, along with Mount Kailas and Manasarowor, the Vyas Valley and surrounding areas. Such claims are based on a revisionist history which uses multiple questionable devices since the time of Mao and Zhounlai and the attack on Indian soil in 1962 at Aksai-Chin.

Therefore, it is beyond comprehension how China may claim the Western Tibet, Bhutan, Sikkim, Arunachol Pradesh and Aksai Chin etc. It must be understood by the Indian government that as long as India remains militarily and especially politically weak, then Chinese and Muslim invaders will keep on claiming part of India as their lands.

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